In the last month, MEDIAGIRLS ran our anti-racism workshop: “How Can Girls Help Take Down Racism with Instagram and TikTok?” We were flooded with questions at the end of the workshop, which we ran twice, and were not able to answer all of them due to time constraints. But the questions were thoughtful and important, and we are addressing them in a three-part series on our blog (we’ll publish Part 2 tomorrow). We appreciate you seeking more information to step up your activism, and below our Education Outreach Manager, Amanda Mozea, shares her insights, thoughts, and observations.
How can we respond to people who argue that “All Lives Matter” when you state that “Black Lives Matter”?
No one has said that all lives don’t matter. Of course, all lives matter! Saying Black Lives Matter does not mean that only Black lives matter or that other lives somehow do not matter. The reason we are saying Black Lives Matter is because Black people are killed by the police at a greater rate than any other group in the US. Black people’s lives are constantly being taken for things like allegedly using a counterfeit bill, having a broken taillight, or walking home with your hood up. That is why we say Black Lives Matter. Obviously, every life matters! But, all lives cannot truly matter until Black people are no longer being murdered, oftentimes just for living their lives.
People on my social media are definitely posting less about #BlackLivesMatter than a month ago. It makes me wonder about how much I should be posting about it?
Your social media is for you. I always tell everyone that I work with – girls and adults alike – that you should never post for other people, only for yourself. While I personally want things to be all Black Lives Matter (and other causes related to justice, equity, and human rights) all the time, that should not be what governs your posting on social media. Maybe you’re committed to posting once or twice a week moving forward. Also, once the hype starts to die down, it’s time to get creative! It can be you posting a picture of your cat and in the caption, you put the link to a petition and tell your followers “Here’s how Fluffy is fighting against racism…”, for example. These last couple of weeks have made me realize that the division between activism and business-as-usual on social media is a false one.
How do I stay encouraged that posting about BLM (#BlackLivesMatter) will make a difference?
The last month of protesting has led to an incredible amount of tangible change! Oftentimes, we don’t see so much change so quickly! It is a little frustrating to me that people are already moving on, even though their efforts are proving to be fruitful! When I think of protests stalling out, it is because nothing is getting done (perhaps this is more of a misconception on my part). In this case, a lot was changing (is changing!), but mass social media efforts have still died down after a couple of weeks.
Also, I want to take a minute here to push back on the idea that BLM is something that non-Black people are not directly affected by. At its core, BLM is about undoing systemic racism that disproportionately harms Black people, yes. But, systemic racism is something that affects all people of color and privileges all white people in this country. It is, in fact, something that affects us all. It is easier to think that BLM is something that specifically affects Black people, but – in fact – it really directly involves and impacts everyone in the US (whether people see/ acknowledge it, or not). To me, that is what makes this issue a little different from, for example, the civil war and health crisis in Yemen (though this issue and issues like it are incredibly important).
What I think is most important is that we all (definitely including myself in this!) think about how we can weave our activism into our everyday social media presence. It’s not activism versus normalcy; it’s activism AND normalcy/activism IS normalcy.
What are your thoughts on feeling pressure to “prove the actions I’m doing” on Instagram when, for me, I organically take actions without publicizing them? Should I just post what I’m doing anyway to show support?
This is SO real! We hear all the time that if something is not documented, it basically didn’t happen. We even made a podcast episode talking about this topic! So many of us feel pressure to post everything we do online. If we don’t and our friends can’t see what they did, did we even do it? What I always say when I hear this – and often have to remind myself of this – is that your social media is for you. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. If you are doing the work behind the scenes and don’t want to publicize those actions that is perfectly okay.
That being said, there are a lot of benefits to posting your actions on social media. By posting, you could help someone find a local non-profit to donate to, or could inspire someone to go to a march or protest. Your platform is powerful! Take these ideas into consideration and do what feels right for you!
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Amanda Mozea is the Education Outreach Manager of MEDIAGIRLS. She graduated from Harvard College, where she concentrated in Social Studies with a focus field titled “Racial Inequality in Contemporary America” and a secondary in Ethnicity, Migration, and Rights. Throughout college, Amanda mentored young girls in Boston’s South End through the program Strong Women Strong Girls. Amanda is a firm believer in the power of media to enact change. While a student at Harvard, Amanda created a multiracial student photo gallery to bring attention to Harvard’s lack of institutional support for multiracial students.